The White Sox, fresh off their series win in Minnesota, head to the west coast for a date with the Angels in LA LA Land. The Sox dropped two of three to the Halos last weekend in Chicago and will look for a different outcome this time around.
The Angels are coming off a series defeat at the hands of the Royals and sit at 15-25, a full eleven games behind the Rangers.
The series opener on Thursday night will be a rematch from last Saturday when Jose Quintana (2-1, 3.72 ERA) takes on Jerome Williams (2-1, 3.06 ERA).
Williams defeated the White Sox last weekend in Chicago going 6.2 innings and allowing 2 runs on 7 hits with 1 walk and 3 strikeouts. He improved to 2-0 with a 2.74 ERA against the White Sox in his career. It was just the second start of the season for Williams and his first one didn’t go so well but for whatever reason the White Sox seem to struggle against him.
He has not started since Saturday so if the White Sox learned anything the first time around about how he plans to attack them in may come in handy. Paul Konerko (5-for-11), Adam Dunn (6-for-21, HR) and Dayan Viciedo (5-for-5, HR) have had the most success against Williams while Alexei Ramirez (.143) and Alex Rios (.143) have struggled.
It is a similar story for Quintana as his last outing was also last Saturday against the Angels. Unfortunately, Quintana took the tough luck loss in that game going 6 innings allowing 3 runs (2 ER) on 5 hits with 1 walk and 5 strikeouts. Q was once again a victim of no run support and poor defense which ended up costing him and the Sox the game.
Quintana continues to pitch pretty well for the Sox, although he has not worked deeper than six innings in any of his last four starts. He is now 0-2 lifetime against the Angels but with an ERA of just 2.45.
He made one start in Anaheim last year and lost, going 5 innings and allowing 4 runs (1ER) on 6 hits with 5 walks and 3 strikeouts. Mike Trout (2-for-4, HR), Alberto Callaspo (2-for-6) and Albert Pujols (2-for-6) are the only Angels with multiple hits against Quintana.
Friday night will be another rematch from last weekend as Chris Sale (4-2, 2.88 ERA) takes the mound against CJ Wilson (3-2, 3.88 ERA).
Wilson pitched for the Angels in the Sunday night game at US Cellular Field and took the loss going 6.2 innings and allowing 3 runs on 6 hits with 4 walks and 3 strikeouts. Despite taking the loss it was the deepest Wilson has worked into a game all season. He kept the Sox at bay for most of the first 6 innings but in the 7th the Sox got to him and forced him from the game.
The Angels bullpen came on gave up an RBI double and that was all Chris Sale needed. As mentioned before, Wilson has been solid but not great. He hasn’t allowed more than 3 earned runs in any of his last six starts but he has allowed at least two runs in each of his last five. Wilson is now 3-2 against the Sox with a 3.09 ERA. Alexei Ramirez (.467) and Casper Wells (.417, 2 HRs) have hit Wilson well while De Aza and Viciedo are a combined 0-for-8 with a couple strikeouts.
Chris Sale was nearly perfect for the White Sox on Sunday night. He allowed just one base runner in the game, a single to Mike Trout with one out in the 7th, en route to his first ever complete game shutout. Not only did Sale go the distance but he needed just 98 pitches to finish the game.
He struck out seven batters but was efficient all night and kept the Angels off balance. It was the type of performance you expect from your ace when you need to stop a losing streak. Sale has been every bit the ace for the Sox the last five times out going 3-1 with a 1.69 ERA.
He has allowed just 29 base runners in 37.1 innings over that stretch, struck out 32 batters and held opponents to a .162 batting average. Even more impressive is that he has held opponents to a .198 batting average on balls in play. Basically it doesn’t matter if they hit the ball, it’s not going to be hit very hard. While we cannot expect another near perfect game from Sale, his effort from Sunday night will still be in the Angels minds less than a week later when he heads out to the mound in Anaheim.
The Sox draw the late afternoon matinee for national TV on Saturday and will send Hector Santiago (1-2, 2.23 ERA) to the mound to face off with Joe Blanton (0-7, 6.46 ERA).
Blanton has been a disaster in his first season with the Angels, who signed him to a 2 year deal worth $14 million in the off season. He is leading the American League in hits allowed with 75 and the Angels have lost all eight games he has started this season. He has only worked deeper than the sixth inning twice so far and has allowed at least 8 hits in each of his last seven starts.
Anaheim has not been kind to Blanton as he is 0-3 with a 7.23 ERA at home as opposed to 5.64 on the road. Opponents are also hitting .378 against him at home. The good news for Joe, he is 3-1 lifetime against the Sox with a 2.59 ERA, although most of that came quite a few years back. Adam Dunn (5-for-22, 2 HRs) and Alex Rios (5-for-18, HR) have the most at bats against Blanton on the Sox.
Hector Santiago will be looking to bounce back after a tough start in Minnesota, although he wasn’t totally to blame. He ended up allowing 6 runs, but just 3 of them earned, over 5.2 innings with 1 walk and 6 strikeouts. It wasn’t a terrible performance by any stretch, but the 8 hits allowed in less than 6 innings is a little high.
As a starter, Santiago has been good, holding opposing hitters to a .215 batting average and a 4:1 strikeout to walk ratio. He has surrendered three home runs in 18 innings so that is a bit of a concern but overall he has been pretty solid since stepping into a starting role.
Hector has one career relief appearance against the Angels and only faced three batters. Hopefully he can give them a look they haven’t seen before with the screwball and keep the Angels hitters off balance.
The finale of the series and the Sox road trip will be on Sunday afternoon when Jake Peavy (5-1, 2.96 ERA) takes on Jason Vargas (2-3, 4.03 ERA).
Vargas is in his first season with the Angels after coming over from Seattle in the off-season in exchange for Kendrys Morales. After a breakout 14-11 season last year, Vargas has taken a bit of a step back so far in 2013. It has been feast or famine for the 30-year-old southpaw this year as he has three starts of allowing 5 runs in less than 6 innings and 4 starts of allowing 2 runs or less.
His last time out was one of the good starts as he defeated the Royals tossing 7 innings allowing 2 runs on 5 hits with 1 walk and 7 strikeouts.
Vargas has been much better at home than on the road, holding opponents to a .231 average at home versus .347 on the road. His ERA is also a full 2 runs lower at home than it is on the road. Vargas has struggled against the White Sox in the past, posting an 0-1 record with a 7.85 ERA in 6 games (5 starts). The Sox have hit .311 with 9 home runs against him in just 28.2 innings.
Paul Konerko (.538, HR), Alexei Ramirez (.467, 2 HRs), Adam Dunn (3-for-5, 2 HRs) and Dayan Viciedo (4-for-6, HR) have all hit Vargas hard. Overall current Sox players have hit .439 with 7 home runs against Vargas.
Jake Peavy has been every bit as good as he was last year, and maybe better. In five of his seven starts this year Peavy has allowed 2 runs or less and has only allowed more than 3 runs in a start once. He has been durable as well, working into the 7th inning in each of his last 5 starts.
He is 4-0 with a 2.10 ERA in his last 5 outings with 38 strikeouts and just 7 walks in 34.1 innings.
He has held opponents to a .202 batting average over that stretch. Jake has been right there along with Sale as the aces of this staff. Now for the bad news, Peavy is 0-3 with a 6.08 ERA lifetime against the Angels. Albert Pujols (.393, 3 HRs) and Josh Hamilton (.467, 2 HRs) have had their way with Peavy in the past. Current Angels hit .323 with 5 homers against Jake.
Keys to the Series
High School Fielding Drills
Following the Sox latest and maybe worst defensive meltdown in the first game in Minnesota, Manager Robin Ventura made the whole team take full uniformed infield practice before game two. The Sox responded with consecutive wins to take the series.
They did technically commit an error in the second game of the series when Adam Dunn’s glove broke at first base, but that’s just crazy. The Sox defensive struggles have been well documented. They are now 6-15 when committing an error this season and 11-6 when they don’t. You don’t have to be a genius to see that if the Sox play clean baseball, they usually win.
Ventura threatened changes for those who couldn’t get their act together defensively and the Sox responded with a couple of their best games of the season. Hopefully they keep that up in Anaheim.
Signs of Life
The White Sox offense has shown some signs of emerging from the coma that it has been in through the first six weeks of the season.
The Sox broke through for a season high nine runs on Wednesday, becoming the last team in the Majors to score eight runs in a game this season. Not only that but the Sox recorded double digits in hits all three games in Minnesota, the longest streak of the season.
Adam Dunn and Dayan Viciedo led the way for the Sox attack going 7-21 (.333) with 5 home runs and 10 RBI in the series. If those two guys can get it going and Paul Konerko can come around the Sox offense should be in much better shape.
The White Sox will throw three lefties against the Angels this weekend (Q, Sale, Santiago). This could bode very well for the Sox as the Angels have not fared well against Southpaws this year.
The Halos have hit just .234 against left handed pitching this season, 23 points lower than their overall average. Their on base (.288) and slugging percentages (.398) against lefties are also pretty bad. We saw first-hand what Chris Sale did to them on Sunday and Quintana pitched pretty well too.
It could be a very interesting matchup for the Sox as each of their lefty pitchers offers something a little different; they could keep the Angels guessing all weekend.
The Sox should have taken two out of three from the Angels last weekend. The pitching was good enough but once again the hitting was not.
Now the bats have warmed up a little bit in Minnesota and if that carries over to this series, the Sox could have a very successful road trip. Most four game series result in a split so that is what I am calling for here. The Sox just haven’t been consistent enough this season to make me think they can take three out of four on the road against a team that still has a lot of talent.
However, if Adam Dunn truly has emerged from his slump and the Sox continue to get double digit hit performances there is no reason to think they couldn’t pull out a series win.